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Things to do in Chinatown

There is no shortage of things to do in Chinatown. In addition to being home to dozens of Asian restaurants, this neighborhood gives visitors the opportunity to learn about Asian culture through visiting museums, exploring landmarks, and partaking in annual cultural events.

While it is easy to visit the museums and landmarks in just a day, you will want to return to Chicago’s Chinatown again and again to try more restaurants and to attend annual events and festivals.

Last updated: April 2022

Read More About Chinatown
Best Restaurants in Chinatown

Where is Chinatown?

Chicago’s Chinatown is bordered by the South Loop to the east and the Chicago River to the west. It is a compact, safe, and very walkable neighborhood.

How to Get to Chinatown:

The Red Line stops at Cermak Chinatown and the Water Taxi stops at the pagoda at the Ping Tom Memorial Park.


Ping Tom Memorial Park

A 17-acre park with Chinese design elements that has walking paths beside the Chicago River, a boat house, and athletic fields. The park also has children’s play spaces and community meeting areas plus a field house with a gymnasium, fitness center, and indoor swimming pool. During the summer, kayak rentals are available. The park is named after Ping Tom, a lifelong resident of Chinatown and a civic leader. The park is used for several events each summer.

Things to do in Chinatown - Chinatown Gateway


Chinatown Gateway

This gate on South Wentworth Avenue was installed in 1975 and marks the entrance to Chinatown. Once you walk through the gate you will find many restaurants and shops. A red line marks the path from the gateway to Chinatown Square.

Pui Tak Center

Located a short walk from the Chinatown Gate, the Pui Tak Center is an example of a Westernized version of traditional Chinese Architecture. Constructed in 1928, and featuring clay roof tiles, terra cotta facades, and twin pagoda style towers, it was originally the On Leong Merchants Association Building. Today the building is owed by the Chinese Christian Union Church and is a community center offering ESL courses and services to area immigrants. The building is the only designated landmark in Chinatown.

Nine Dragon Wall

Located near the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line station, this intricately decorated and sculpted wall is a replica of the nine dragon wall in Beihai Park in Beijing and is one of just three such replicas outside of China. The wall features nine large dragons painted in gold, blue, and red, colors that symbolize food fortune. Nine dragons are depicted since nine is considered to be a magical number in Chinese culture.


Heritage Museum of Asian Art

This museum’s collection represents a wide variety of Asian cultures, mediums, and time periods from Neolithic pottery to Imperial porcelain and Classical Chinese furniture. Exhibitions explore topics like the Buddhist art of Japan, contemporary Netsuke carving, and stone sculpture from India.

Chinese American Museum of Chicago

A museum celebrating Chinese American culture with a permanent exhibit titled Great Wall to Great Lakes that explores the journeys taken by Chinese immigrants who settled in the Midwest. Additional exhibits focus on Chinese American veterans, Chinese fine dining, and attic treasures.

Things to do in Chinatown - visit Chinatown Square

Things to Do in Chinatown

Chinatown Square

A large two-level outdoor pedestrian marketplace lined with shops, bakeries, and restaurants. Browse shops selling Asian snacks, candy, and drinks, check out the clothing stores, try bubble tea at one of the tea shops, and snack on dumplings before settling in for a meal at one of the many restaurants.

Pan Asian Cultural Center

A square in the middle of Chinatown Square that has statues depicting the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac along with plaques describing their attributes.

Restaurants in Chinatown

Chinatown has dozens of Chinese restaurants plus restaurants serving other Asian cuisines. The neighborhood is a dining destination known for authentic Asian cuisine at affordable prices. You can see our recommendations in our Chinatown Restaurant Guide.

Take the Chinatown Water Taxi

Take in views of the skyline as you travel from the loop to Ping Tom Memorial Park. The taxi runs seasonally during the warmer months and tickets can be purchased online. Single rides are $6 and day passes are $10.

Chinatown Walking Tour

Run by the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, this walking tour covers 7-8 blocks of Chinatown with stops at the Chinese Buddhist Temple, the Nine Dragon Wall, Chinatown Gate, Chinatown Square, and the Pui Tax Center. Food tours are also offered.

Joy Yee Plus

Be prepared to wait in line to try the bubble tea and bubble waffles at the popular walk up window at Joy Yee Plus. This is the place to have an instagram worthy snack.


Sakura Karaoke Bar and No. 18 Karaoke Bar are both popular karaoke bars in Chinatown offering private karaoke rooms.

Shakespeare in the Park

A free one night only performance of a Shakespeare play at Ping Tom Memorial Park. This event is organized by the Chicago Parks District and the 2022 date is TBD.

Night Out in the Parks

Night Out in the Parks is a series of special cultural events that take place in parks across Chicago. As part of this Chicago Parks District event series, music and dance performances are hosted at Ping Tom Memorial Park. The 2022 dates have not been announced yet.

Annual Events in Chinatown

Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is celebrated with an annual parade that has dragon and lion dancing teams, floats, marching bands, and marching groups. In 2023 the parade will be held on Sunday, January 29.

Dragon Boat Race for Literacy

Each June dragon boat races are held at Ping Tom Memorial Park to promote Asian culture while helping to raise money for neighborhood literacy programs. At this race, 32 teams each consisting of 18 paddlers, 1 drummer, and 1 flag catcher compete in beautifully decorated dragon boats.

Moon Festival / Mid-Autumn Festival

The Moon Festival (also called the Mid-Autumn Festival) takes place on the 15th of the 8th lunar month and falls sometime between mid-September to early October. This is the time of harvest and when the moon is believed to be its fullest and brightest. The event takes place at Ping Tom Memorial Park and traditional Chinese folk dancing, storytelling, lantern making, music, moon cakes, and a lantern parade.

Summer Fair

A large two-day neighborhood street fair on Wentworth Avenue featuring Asian food, art, dance, and music. A lion dance procession kicks off the event and a main stage has kung-fu demonstrations, a breakdancing contest, a dumpling eating contest, and K-pop entertainment. The next event will be held July 30-31 2022.